September 30, 2011

Sugar Cookies for someone special

This was my first attempt at sugar cookies, and first attempt at decorating them too..and tasting them too. :-) I have learned how common they are in other parts of world, now that I have started baking so frequently. This was the second kind of cookie that I parceled to my friend, chosen again due to its crispiness and ability to last longer. The recipe was again from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours" and this time I faced more troubles than with Chocolate almond biscotti. But this time the fault was mine. I had halved the recipe and assumed that the small size eggs will be half of the "large sized eggs". The dough became unmanageable because of that. But thankfully it didn't impact the taste or texture. The only thing I had to do was to refrigerate for more than 2 hours, so that i could work with the dough.
I decorated the cookies with home-colored  sugar, which gives it a nice crunch. For next time, I am thinking of adding either spices or citrus zest to give them some additional flavour.

Here is the original recipe from the book.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Colored sugar/cinnamon sugar [optional]

  1. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  2. Working with  mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. 
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated — because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic.Chill the dough for at least 2 hours. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  6. Working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  7. Cut the cookies with a cookie cutter and place them on the baking sheet 1 and 1/2 inch apart. If you feel butter s melting, chill it for some time.
  8. Sprinkle colored sugar just before you place the cookies in oven.
  9. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all.
  10. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
  11. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

September 28, 2011

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Biscotti are twice baked cakes, which are crispy and crunchy and can last for a longer time as they become dry due to baking it twice. I was exactly looking for something like this ,which could last longer, as for the first time I was parceling them to another city, to a friend.
It was about time i made something from the Dorie Greenspan's book which I had gifted to myself for my birthday few month's back :) For any baking , I usually go to the internet for reference. It makes me easier to follow a recipe which has review comments and suggestions incase someone faces a problem. This time , I didn't. Later on ,while slicing the biscotti after first bake , I faced an issue as it was crumbling. I think I almost had 1/3rd of them broken. I searched if others faced the same issue with the recipe and someone did face the same. That apart, these are delicious. My husband who is not so much a sweets person, is munching on the broken ones, while the good ones were packed and sent :)

[about 40 cookies]
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped  roasted almonds 
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ( or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips)
Sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/176 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, coffee powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes until pale.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes.
  5. Decrease the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. 
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate chunks/chips.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead a few times just to incorporate any dry ingredients that didn't get mixed in before. 
  8. Divide into two portions ,shape each portion into a 12 x 2 inch log and 1/2 to 1 inch high. 
  9. Place them on baking sheet,sprinkle the tops with a little sugar.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes till they are slightly firm.Logs will spread and crack which is fine.
  11. Remove the sheet from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Then, with a very sharp, serrated knife, slice the logs into about 3/4 - 1 inch slices and leave the slices standing up on the baking sheet 
  12. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes of baking.
  13. Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

Linking it to Almond Event at Anu's healthy kitchen and cookeatdelicious

September 22, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Bananas

I have always wanted to make Chocolate Frozen Bananas when I first saw them. It was something very new for me and was surprised that it is even packaged and sold in shops abroad, just like ice creams. I have come closer to make them many times in past, but every time, by the time  I came out of laziness, the bananas would become overripe. Thankfully, not this time.  
I had also been wanting to try making colored sugar,which I did last night , to sprinkle it over the chocolate covered bananas. The sugar looked really nice, but when sprinkled over chocolate, most of it was sucked inside. The chocolate over the bananas freezes super fast, within seconds, so , in this case colored sugar was not a good idea. The other toppings I tried, was chocolate sprinkles and roasted almonds. I haven't yet tasted the chocolate sprinkles one, but the roasted almonds is super duper awesome. I would suggest everyone to try that. You can make them in different sizes , by cutting them accordingly. Having made them in smaller bite size too, I prefer the smaller version for ease of popping :)

Adapted from
2 Ripe but firm bananas
6 oz dark chocolate
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
  1. Line a baking sheet or a plate with wax paper/parchment paper.
  2. Cut the bananas in halves, or as per your wish. I also cut the tip of the bananas at both the ends. For bigger size bananas, insert an ice cream stick ,for smaller ones, you can use toothpicks. Place them on the baking sheet.
  3. Freeze them uncovered from minimum 15 minutes. I read people freezing for more than that,overnight too. So, I increased the freezing time to 1 hour. It is important to keep them uncovered.
  4. When the bananas are about to complete their freezing time,  start the preparation for chocolate coating.
  5. Melt the chocolate with the oil  in the microwave  at 30 sec interval or in a half-full pan of simmering water (about 2 minutes). Stir until smooth.  
  6. Take the bananas out of freezer and working quickly dip each banana piece in the chocolate, and quickly sprinkle with your topping . This has to be done very quickly as chocolate sets within seconds.
  7.  The frozen bananas are ready to eat, right away. You can store them for 1 week, covered , in the freezer. If it is stored frozen, before serving, take out from freezer and keep in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

    I loved how the roasted almonds came out, so sharing the way I did too here. It is more for my reference when I do them again. :)

    How to roast Almonds in oven
    1. Preheat oven at 170C.
    2. Spread 1/4 cup almonds on an aluminum baking dish . Each almond should be spread evenly.
    3. Bake them for 18 minutes, turning them over at every 6 minutes.

Linking it to Almond Event at Anu's healthy kitchen and cookeatdelicious

September 19, 2011

Chocolate Truffles

I had some leftover chocolate ganache which I wanted to reuse . I had seen chocolate truffles on many blogs earlier, so that was the first thing that came to my mind. Truffles  are named as they resemble the truffle fungus and the cocoa coated truffles is the traditional way of making them to resemble the dirt on the fungus truffle. I had  initially thought of doing it the non traditional way, coating with melted chocolate and making some beautiful designs. I had my brother and his friend over at home, so to make something sweet and quick , I went ahead with cocoa coating. The first bite was unimaginably bitter, I had never tasted so much of cocoa and was a bit naive to expect something else instead of bitterness. However subsequent bites was into the chocolate heaven. Good quality chocolate needs to be used for truffles, and you can add flavours ,spices like cinnamon and  nuts of your choice too.
Since I had reused the ganache which was already referigerated , it was quick for me. But if you are doing it for scratch, you would need to wait for few hours for the ganache to become firm enough to form into balls.

For 30-40 truffles
1 cup or  8 oz of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped
1/2 cup of heavy cream
You can add any of these flavours to the ganache
Cinnamon and cardamon
Almond extract
Coffee/espresso powder
Citrus zest [ lemon/orange
 You can add any of these Truffles Coatings
Cocoa powder
Finely chopped roasted nuts walnuts/almonds/hazelnuts
White or dark melted chocolate coating
Toasted grated cocout
Chocolate shavings

  1. In a small, heavy saucepan bring the cream to a  boil.
  2. Stir in any of the flavors that you want.
  3. If the chocolate is too hard, melt it in microwave. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. This is called Ganache.
  4. Let it cool and then refrigerate it for two hours.
  5. Once it is firm enough, scoop out 1 tbsp of firmed ganache ,roll it into balls with your hands. and immediately roll them over the coating of your choice. 
  6. Place it on a parchment paper and refrigerate till you are ready to serve.

September 11, 2011

Hazelnut Nutella Thumbprint Cookies

I am guilty of lying low in the blogword these days, not posting anything, not visiting any of the fellow bloggers blogs that frequently.Mumbai  monsoon continues. It has been raining everyday, leaving a sense of melancholy on weekdays and to add to that office hours have been hectic, leaving me uninspired to cook anything special. The only good thing is when we go out on weekends, to explore the beauty that monsoon brings.
Here are some of the photos  from our recent trip to Matheran, a beautiful hill station near mumbai, where no vehicles are allowed. There are no concrete or tar roads. You have to go from a place either on foot or horses. The photos are taken by my husband, who is an amateur photographer.  
Enjoy the photos of greenery and rains :))

My sister was here for a couple of days. She had made of list of few things for me to bake. Unfortunately, due to lack of time I  couldn't  make anything. To make up for that I baked some of these thumbprint cookies that she could take home.  The baking time that the original recipe had did not work for me , maybe because I use a microwave convection oven. It was too crumbly and was breaking even if I tried to lift them. I increased the baking time considerably to get a harder texture. The cookies came out delicious and exactly of the same texture I wanted.  
The recipe is from BakersDaughter .OMG, You can imagine how much office work is on my mind. I was going to write ," Please find the recipe attached" . :-D

 [25-30 cookies]
12 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup hazelnuts toasted

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.  
  2. Finely chop the hazelnuts.  Set aside. 
  3. Using a hand or stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat for a few minutes until smooth. 
  4. Add the flour,vanilla extract and mix until combined.   
  5. Form the dough into tablespoon sized balls.  Roll each ball into the chopped nuts and place on the baking trays 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and press a round teaspoon into the center into each cookie to make an indentation. If you can bear a bit of heat, you can use your thumb ,like I did :)
  7.  Using a pastry bag,fill in nutella in the indentation. The original recipe had this step once the cookies were completely baked. But , I wanted to harden Nutella a bit  as I was packing them, so I did this step before.The first photo above is after this step.
  8. Place back the cookies in the oven for another 20-25 minutes  till they are slightly brown [ The original recipe had 7-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned.  ]
  9. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

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